Aug 31, 2009

What’s In a Name?

by Joyce DiPastena

I sit here in rare utter blankness of what to write for my ANWA blog turn. I read though the blogs that came before me this week. All of them so inspirational. I read them with a mixture of joy and discouragement, for I find that I’m not feeling very inspirational myself at the moment. (Oh, except that I feel very inspired to attend the ANWA Writers Conference in February. Thanks for that post, Marsha!)

Still, I find myself at a loss for words to type. Shall I let my sisters down, allowing Monday to slip by without a post to read? Never! (Well, not this week, at least.)

In desperation, I cast my eyes about the room. (Not literally, of course. Thankfully, they’re both still planted firmly in my head.) They alight (figuratively again) upon a book sitting on the top of a stack next to my computer chair. E.G. Withycombe’s Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names. ’Tis a book I sometimes use to help me name the characters in my stories. (How’d you like that ’tis I threw in? No? Okay, I’ll save it for my novels after this…maybe.)

Hmmm, I think to myself, I wonder what this book says about my name. It’s been a very long time since I looked it up. Let’s see:

Joyce: this common medieval name [cool! that seems appropriate for me!] was used for both men and women [men??? ack!] in the forms of Josse, Goce, etc (Latin Jodocus, Jodoca, Jocea) [well, at least my parents didn’t name me Jodaca!]. It is of Celtic origin, being the name of a 7th C Breton saint, Jodoc, son of Judicael, a hermit of Ponthieu. [Sigh. So I really was named after a man.] His cult spread through north France, the Low Countries, and southern Germany. The Dutch Joos(t) [Oooo, I’m glad my parents didn’t name me Joost! Thank goodness neither one of them were Dutch.] is a form of it. As a man’s name, it died out in England in the 14th C [Whew!], but as a woman’s name it survived, though in rare use. [I’ve always thought I was quite rare, myself.] It has been noted in the 17th C, and in the 18th and 19th C survived in country districts. CMY [Hmm, I wonder what that is. Better look it up under “Abbreviations”. Ah! CMY: Charlotte Mary Yonge, History of Christian Names, 2 vols, 1863.] says of it, ‘once not uncommon amongst English ladies.” [Oh, I like the sound of that!] It was revived as a fashionable name, probably in part owing to Edna Lyall’s use of it for the heroine of her popular historical novel In the Golden Days (1885), and is now once more in frequent use." [I was the heroine of a historical novel? I’ve gotta track that book down!]

Well, that was quite an interesting and fun little diversion, at least for me. Don’t you wish you had a copy of E.G. Withycombe’s Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names so you could look up your name, too? I suppose you can try to Google yourself. You never know what you might find.

I know what you’re all really hoping. That Joyce/Josse/Jodoca/Joost will be feeling more inspired the next time her blog turn rolls around!

Aug 29, 2009

No Chances

By Kristine John

I have been disappointed more than once today because I had to make the decision between blogging for ANWA or making a salad for the funeral of a sweet 5 year old girl in the last hour I was awake last night.
I chose the salad because I knew that we would be at the temple first thing this morning and I wouldn't have time to put together a salad this morning.
I was disappointed, not because of the choice I made, but because I had a chosen topic and ideas about what to blog about and now, because of my decision, I would have to wait two weeks to share those thoughts.
However, when I clicked on the ANWA blog and saw there is no post for today and Christine's posted one minute before Saturday, I decided I'll share my thoughts today! (Thanks!!)

While on the internet yesterday, I came across this quote,

"We think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting – any of these chances might have kept us apart.
But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples “ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “you have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another. The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.” -CS Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 85

As many of you may remember, I moved in January.
We had spent a weekend in November searching for homes in the Queen Creek area, and settled on two homes that we would be happy with.
We put our bids in on both homes and waited, renegotiating each bid, looking for an agreeable price that we could afford the payments on.
Due to both price and floor plan, we settled on the lower-priced home and started moving forward into the buying process.
About 3 weeks into that decision, we found that the owners were selling the house for profit within 90 days of buying it, and our FHA loan would not allow us to go forward with a buying a home that was being sold for profit within that 90 day period of time.
Initially, when the deal fell through, we were sad and frustrated.

We found quickly, however, that the Lord had other plans for us, and we were able to renegotiate the price on our current home, picking up right where we had left off.
Amazingly, the bank worked with us, far more than we thought they would, and we were able to secure the home within a week or so of the other home falling through.

Although our initial plans had been to settle in a different neighborhood, the spirit quickly confirmed in a whisper, "You are moving where I need you to be. This is the right place for you."
With consistent and sure promptings of the spirit coming on a regular basis, we turned our hearts and our minds to going and being where and doing what the Lord was asking of us.

Now, more than ever, I know, as C.S. Lewis said, that "there are, strictly speaking, no chances".
Not chance that I am in the right house, in the right ward, in the right neighborhood, in the right town.
Not chance that the people I come into contact with are those who will impact my life in ways I have yet to see and understand.
Not even a chance that any of this is pure luck or simple happenstance.

Truly, it is not chance.
It is His plan for me at this time.
And the amazing thing?
He has a plan for you too.
For each of you.
More complete, and beautiful than you can imagine.
For truly, strictly speaking, there are no chances.

Aug 28, 2009

The Woman at the Well- Misjudged

By Christine Thackeray

Our quarterly Enrichment Meeting is tomorrow. I've been preparing a program about the women in the scriptures who are unnamed and how they still had a great impact despite their anonymity. While I researching this, the woman at the well in Samaria had me shocked. She was not what I thought AT ALL.

I had judged her because I always remembered the five husband thing. When Christ said that if she had asked him, she would have gotten living water, I thought she never did. I assumed that she probably wasn't worthy of it, but I totally missed the point of the whole story.

Two little facts I wasn't aware of. The word "Samaritan" means "keeper of the truth." The Samaritans believed that the original temple site was on Mount Gerizim and that the temple mount in Jerusalem was the wrong place. They held to what they believed to be true. They were also primarily descendants of Ephriam and Mennasah. The reason the Jews hated them is that they didn't accept their authority or their temple and Judea even went so far as to destroy the Samaritan temple during the Hasmonean reign. Still, the Samaritans continued to worship there without walls.

Anyway, I wrote a little vinnette about this amazing woman:

The Woman at Jacob's Well-

We all have our secrets. No one needs to know my past, and no one in Sychar did. I recently moved there with a good man, the first good man I’ve ever been with. I would have married him, but my last husband left town without divorcing me. He may be dead, but it seemed a greater sin to be married to two men officially than to simply live with one until I found out for sure.

Still, to keep this secret has cost me dearly. From the first day here I’ve been careful not to let the women too close. When my neighbor welcomed me with a loaf of bread, I returned it, explaining that we could not accept such kindness. The scowl on her face gave me assurance that she would stay away. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t love to be her friend, but women ask too many questions. If I had let her near, one day I would slip and once she knew the terrible things I’d done and the horrible men I’ve been with, she could never look at me the same way again. No, it was better for everyone if I simply pushed the women away.

On the bright side, men don’t ask questions, especially of a married woman. So I made friends with the men that hovered around the livery where my supposed husband worked. We laughed together and often discussed politics and religion which were so interconnected that they were almost the same conversation.

Business was doing well, and I looked forward to the day when I could hire a servant to fetch water for us. Until that day, I was careful not to approach the well at the common times. During the first hours of the morning the women of the village gathered in droves as much for water as for gossip and conversation. As soon as the sun had risen, they’d hurry to socialize, some for hours. It wasn’t until mid-day that they had gone. That is when I’d leave with my vessel, before they all started to return in the evening to ask more probing questions or glare in disapproval.

As I approached Jacob’s well this one day, a Jewish man sat on its edge and asked me for water. I was shocked he would even talk to me. Jews hated the Samaritans because we claim the real priesthood and the real temple site. I asked him why he spoke to me, and he answered that if I had asked of him, he would give me living water. At that point I simply laughed at him, because he had nothing to fetch with. Then he explained about the power of the water he spoke of, and I realized it was symbolic. Perhaps this water could heal my past and wash it away. I felt something I hadn’t before and knew that this water was something I needed. I asked, “Give me of this water that I may thirst not.”

His answer made me wilt. “Call thy husband and come hither.”

I bit my lip, unsure of how to answer. “I don’t have a husband.” I finally said.

Instead of the words bringing derision, a look of joy sprang to his face and he commended me for my honesty and spoke of my past in detail, something no one else knew. But his words didn’t make me feel dirty like when others had voiced it. I knew he loved me and that he must be a prophet. Excited at this discovery, I asked him the doctrinal question that had been plaguing me about the original temple site. He asked how I hoped to receive an answer, and I told him eventually the Savior would come and tell us. As the words hit my lips, I knew. He was the Messiah. This was the one for whom we waited.

I dropped my vessel and ran to town, shouting “He is here. The Messiah has come.” Many of the women shunned my words, but the men I had spoken with at the livery and my own sweet companion believed me. We ran back to the well, where he sat waiting for us and taught us marvelous things. Then we invited him to Samaria and he stayed for two full days. Many believed and during that time he truly filled me with the living water as he had promised. I’ve never thirsted more.

Aug 27, 2009

Looking Through God's Eyes

By Kari Diane Pike

Deseret Book's Time Out for Women program has been offering an amazing webinar program for the past five or six months. You pay a small fee and for your money, you get to watch three different speakers give three or four different webinars dealing with their particualr subject. You are also provided with an online journal beneath the screen so that you can follow an outline provided by the author and add personal notes. This can then be printed for future reference. Sheri Dew is featured in the first set of classes and discusses the topic of "The Divine Gift of Influence: Righteous Women Can Change the World." I am currently watching the second "semester" of webinars and thoroughly enjoying them.

Camille Fronk leads the most recent presentation I am watching. The title is "Mentored by Our Foremothers" and the first class is subtitled, "Seeing As God Sees." Sister Fronk poses an interesting question and challenge.

"How do you limit yourself when you judge someone with only part of the information? What limitations do I place upon myself when I label someone else?" Sister Fronk then challenges the listener to think back to a time when you may have purposely, or unconsciously labeled or judged someone. Try to see that person as God sees them. Does the atonement apply to them?

"Boyd K. Packer said, 'Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known its fullness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense expempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.'" (Oct. 1995 General Conference)

Unfortunately, I didn't have to think very far back in time. Last week we received an e-mail from a person that produced a great cause for concern in our family. I felt offended. I felt betrayed. I felt discouraged. I quickly became very angry. The angrier I became, the more reasons I came up with justifying the reasons I felt so angry. There was that word: justify - a big red flag that through the years I have learned to recognize. I knew that if I caught myself "justifying" I most likely needed to change something, not about another person, but about me; my attitude, my choices, my habit. If I felt the need to justify an action or thought or attitude, that action, thought, or attitude probably did not fit with my goal to live a Christ-centered life.

I prayed about my feelings and asked Heavenly Father to please help me let go of my anger. As I prayed, questions about the person involved formed in my head. Why did she send that e-mail? What is going on in her life right now? Imagine being the mother of a large family in a new state, a new ward, a new culture, a new home, and your husband needing to be more than 800 miles away while you try to unpack and adjust. How would you feel?

The next day I attended the final session of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication. As I sat and listened to the Tabernacle choir perform the sacred hymns and watched slides of the beautiful grounds, the foyers, the sealing rooms, and the celestial room, I thought about the purpose of the temple. My heart broke open and I felt it fill with love and peace. That love and peace overflowed and filled my entire being. I could see my sweet "sister" and feel her struggle. She must feel miserable. She is under a huge amount of stress and feelings of inadequacy as the extent of her responsibilities must seem overwhelming. I am too far away to help her physically, but I can pray for her and love her and ask that the Holy Spirit carry that love to her. I thought a bit about what the worst consequence of her actions could be for me and my family. That consequence would be difficult, but it would be temporary. A far worse consequence would be if I chose to remain angry and blaming and unforgiving - that consequence not only creates pain now - but would be eternal. I came to love this person as I saw her as God sees her. I am eternally grateful.

Aug 26, 2009

"I Guess I'll Just Have To Write My Own Story..."

by Kirsten Millsap

My eight year old has seen me sitting for hours at my desk, trying to find that perfect word...that perfect phrase...she'll ask, "How's your book coming along, Mama?" I'll usually respond with a grunt or an, "...Ummm..." that never becomes a full answer. She gets it though; she says, "Not good, huh?" No. Not good. Last night we went through the same routine and she says she thinks I may be "Over-thinking it" a phrase we often use on her. That's cute, and earns her a half-smile from me, though I'm still distracted. She pulls up a chair and asks me to read what I have so far. I do. Midway through she stops me and says, "This isn't a kids book, is it." Not a question. A statment. I tell her it's for big people. She asks if I have anything for kids. I tell her I don't. She thinks about that for a moment, and says, "I Guess I'll Just Have To Write My Own Story..."

I set her up with a page in Word, and she settles in to work at my husband's computer, across from me. I sit there, letting my stalled thoughts congeal as I hear her tiny fingers click rapidly across the keyboard. She's making me look bad. I actually try to boost my ego by telling myself that her story is going to be about bunnies hopping through the forest with barbies riding upon their furry little backs...lots of spelling errors and no plot. As I struggle to find a different way of saying "Said" for the next half hour, Clicky-Clickerson is clattering away at her sure-to-be silly story...until the clattering stops and she announces triumphantly, "Done! Want to hear my story, Mama?" I decide I can use a break. She reads it to me. And I was at least partly correct; the story is indeed about bunnies...but it is a mommy bunny and a daughter bunny. There is a begining, a middle and an end. And a moral--the kid has actually come up with a moral to her story!! GENIUS! And I am amused to find that I even enjoyed listening to it. My child has a gift. A very sweet gift that, while it may have momentarily deflated my ego, has certainly brought me a whole lot of motherly pride!

I'm beaming as I sit here typing...and thinking...maybe I should make my life easier, and publish children's books...with my eight year old as the author.

Aug 25, 2009

Writing: An Emotional, Chocolate-charged Journey

by Valerie Ipson

Last evening I attended a writer's and illustrator's panel held at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. Janette Rallison, ANWA member and author extraordinaire, participated, as well as four other panelists, who if I named I would then feel obligated to link up their websites and blogsites so you could see who they are and the work they have done, and, well, frankly, that would just take time, and I have paused in the middle of reworking chapter 20 of my novel to write this blog and am in no frame of mind to pause further, though I will take a breath right now.

I enjoy these kinds of author events, or any kind, really, even though it requires sitting through questions like, "I have a folder of all these story ideas, which one do I choose?" How should they know? And for the 28,000th time, "NO. Editors do not like it if you send in text and illustrations together." How many times did they address that last night? (I don't know, but my eye's starting to twitch) Fine, there may be special situations for those that are already established illustrators..., but AHHH...!

Okay, I'm better now.

I just like being in that setting...authors who know of what they speak, me gleaning, gleaning, gleaning...and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming. I like being at Changing Hands surrounded by books with their beautiful, shining, beckoning covers that call to shoppers to part with their cash. Maybe someday people will part with cash for my book(s). If they want to get on the waiting list at the library that's fine, too, or wait till it comes out in paperback, I understand.

I'll admit I was a tad emotional as I drove away last night, thinking of how I love my story and my main character and the world I'm creating and I can't wait to be able to share it and for people to read it and love to read it like I have always loved to read other people's books and so I had to stop and buy some chocolate.

[today's post also appearing at]

Aug 24, 2009

Life and Death what is really important

By Stacy Johnson
There has been a lot on my mind this week. My friends will tell you that I've been mentally "not there" recently. I planned a fundraising event for me and 1500 of my closest friends and pulled it off this weekend. Well, I don't know all of them, but they all play football in the Pop Warner league that I am on the board of directors for...I am the fundraising person. But, in the midst of all my chaos and planning, I stopped for some really important things. Because, that is what you do when you are taking care of things that are seemingly unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
My sister had her 6th baby this week. I have been in the delivery room for all of them and even though I had a list a mile long, I wasn't going to miss this. There is something about watching the birth of a child that stays with you long after the delivery. I don't know if I'm all emotional about it cause half the time she's delivered, I've been pregnant myself, or if I'm just sentimental about this topic. Yes, pregnant again with my 8th, when I got the call on Tuesday morning, I headed straight to the hospital. Ah, the miracle of life. Baby and mom are well, although Baby Tyler had some breathing problems right at the start. I had the priveledge of keeping my two nieces at our home so they could get off to school each day while mom was in the hospital. Everyone is home now and our mom (my sister and mine) is taking care of that family. We love that about our mom. I will head back over there today to visit now that the stress of last week is over.
Saturday night, during my huge fundraising carnival, I got word that my new neighbor's children had been found unconscious in their pool. I don't even think they had completely moved in yet, though they had been visiting our ward for the past few weeks. I'm so glad I had some time to meet her during RS a few weeks ago. I gave her my number and told her to call if she needed anything while they were slowly fixing up the house and getting moved in. Anyway, I was at the event when I heard the news. I paused for a moment, had a quick cry then quickly found my children who were scattered around the field and gave them each a squeeze. There were plenty of ward members helping out the family that evening so leaving the event wouldn't have been helpful. I stayed and we finished late into the evening. When I got home, there was a message from my sweet friend asking if I had an extension ladder they could use because they were about to begin some painting around the house. She obviously left the message earlier in the afternoon. I paused and cried again. My prayers for this family were constant throughout the day on Sunday and continue for this sweet young family.
What is really Important
Our family prayer lastnight was emotional for me as I prayed for strength for my new friends and I asked my Heavenly Father to bless us to remember what is truly important. In order to help us do this, we have started a new tradition or ritual, where we will go around and say one nice thing about each other before we get up and separate after our morning and evening family prayers. I hope this will help us not have any regrets and encourage us to look for the good in each other, just in case such a tragedy befalls our family.

Aug 23, 2009

ANWA Writers Conference

by Marsha Ward

Please put this date on your calender: February 27, 2010.

You'll want to save it for the fabulous ANWA Writers Conference that will be held that day at the Best Western Dobson Ranch Inn at 1666 South Dobson Road, Mesa Arizona. That's just south of US Highway 60 (the Superstition Freeway) and west of Loop 101.

Be sure to check the ANWA website for developments.

See you there!

Oops, EAST of Loop 101.

Aug 22, 2009

Writing Nook

by Cindy R. Williams

Do you have a writing nook? A place where you hide away from the world, or at least TRY to hide, to do your writing?

The many different places writer's go to find their muse is quite fascinating.

John Lewis, the co-author of the Grey Griffin series writes in a local small cafe. He says he likes the energy and atmosphere there, and he is not tempted to go play with his kids all the time. J.K. Rowling said she got the idea of Harry Potter when she was on a train. She wrote much of the first book at a small cafe.

A friend or mine writes at the family computer in her PJ's with all her children running around wild. She is able to close off her mind, and only hear the real emergency screams. Another writer takes a pad and pen on walks, and jots down thoughts inspired by the beauty around her. Yet another writer writes snippets during breaks at work.

One writer I know took a three day vacation to a cabin just to write. She's near the end of her book and said she wanted the time to completely focus and tie it all together. It sounded wonderful.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with the solution for your character when he/she is in a tight spot or when the plot needs help. Do you keep paper and pen by your bed for inspiration in the wee hours?

Do you need quiet? Do you listen to music and if so, do you change the music to inspire the type of scene you are writing?

I take my computer with me when I go to appointments, including the doctor and dentist. I used to resent waiting, but now the time is filled with writing. I actually look forward to these stolen twenty minutes or so.

My favorite writing nook is in my bedroom. I have a comfy couch and a Queen Elizabethan desk---the kind that is carved with birds and fronds and has a piece of wood that when open, becomes the desk. My dragons and fairies are scattered all around the room for inspiration and so that I can keep their colors and attributes straight. This doesn't work unless you have a very easy going husband that doesn't mind sharing a bedroom with fairies and dragons.

Do you need peace and quiet? Do you listen to music and if so, do you change the music to inspire the type of scene you are writing?

Where is your writing nook? Please share.

Aug 21, 2009

Seemingly Available Space

by Sarah Albrecht

I don’t think I’ll ever learn not to use Seemingly Available Space. Seemingly Available Space (SAS), in case you don’t suffer from this problem, is a conveniently open spot that you think you can use, but something else really belongs there.

Ah! I’ll think. A milk-jug-sized space in the fridge! I’ll just put this dish of leftover spaghetti there. And I do, without registering that maybe there’s a milk-jug-sized space in the fridge because the milk is sitting on the counter and needs to get put away. Or how about the iron’s spot on the utility room shelf. Yes, the perfect spot to stack the three packs of lightbulbs I just bought at Target. Slot on the bookshelf? Opening in the pantry? Bike-shaped spot in the garage? Invariably, I will delight in the handy space to put something new without realizing it’s barging in where something old belongs.

I’m not like my kindergartener. She came home from her first day of school totally disgusted with a boy in her class, whom she dubbed “A Little Five Guy.” Thinking her empty carpet square was available, he took it and, despite her insistence, wouldn’t relinquish it. Unlike me, she immediately realized that something, namely the Five Guy, was in the SAS. Ah, to be that quick.

The problem could be age maybe if I go sit on a carpet square, I can figure this out.

Aug 20, 2009

Sophia Emily, How Do You Like the World So Far?

by Stephanie Abney

This is Sophia Emily Shifflet, (our oldest daughter's 5th child) born just three days (+ a few hours) ago. She is our 15th grandchild and she is PERFECT!!! The doctor's worried she would come early or that there might be complications, etc. But she made it to 38 1/2 weeks (at a healthy 8 lbs. 10 oz; 20 in. long) and she is beautiful and alert. This picture was taken when she was less than 48 hours old.

There is something about newborns that is utterly fascinating. They seem to peer right into your heart. And then they look right past you as if they SEE someone beyond you and my guess is that they do!! I'm sure it is because they are so fresh from their Heavenly Father. If they could speak to us in words, can you even imagine what they might have to say?

One of my favorite songs is a sweet little ballad by Barbra Streisand called, "Jenny Rebecca." I don't know if anyone else is familiar with it (she sang it over 40 years ago) but the lyrics are so sweet. I can just picture a pretty little girl doing all the things the song speaks of... just for fun, I thought I would share it with you here. I'm sorry that I don't know who wrote it (I looked online but couldn't find it ~ feel free to enlighten me):

Jenny Rebecca, four days old
How do you like the world so far?
Jenny Rebecca, four days old
What a lucky, lucky, lucky Lucky girl you are
For you have swings to be swung on
Trees to be climbed up
Days to be young on
Toys you can wind up
Grass to be lying on
Sun up above
Pillows for crying on
When you're in love
Ponies for riding
Wind in your hair
Slides to be sliding on
Leaves in the air
Dogs to be caring for
Love to be giving
Dreams to be daring for
Long as you're living
Yes, you have Dreams to be daring for
Long as you're living
Jenny Rebecca, four days old
What a lucky, lucky, lucky Lucky girl you are...

My precious little Sophia Emily, how do you like the world so far?

Aug 19, 2009

Conference and Research

by Marielle Carlisle

I'm excited to attend my first writing conference in September.

When I received word that SCBWI was holding a conference in Scottsdale, I jumped for joy. Oh, happy day! One of my goals this year is to attend a class/conference, and this fit the bill. As soon as the application was available I filled it out and mailed it. On the same day.

I've already started thinking about what I'm going to wear (pants or capris? shoes or sandals? Or do I go with a dress and pumps?), and have gotten the day off from work (like they need me. summers are slow in genereal, but this summer you could shoot a cannon through the hallways and no one would be bothered).

I hope to see some of my ANWA peeps there. I'll be the unabashedly overexcited lady that's way over dressed.

On now in a completely different direction -

I'm taking a break from my manuscript. You know, giving it some space, some breathing room. That whole 'absence makes the heart grow stronger.'

I'm trying to research my next story, which has to do with safaris and animals in Africa, and have been reading all sorts of interesting books.

I just finished one that a safari tour guide in Botswana wrote about his real-life adventures while on the job. It is quite comical; I chuckled out loud throughout the book. Near death experiences with wildlife, irritating tourists, and seasonal weather catastrophes is only the beginning of this guys troubles. One thing that surprised me is that the honey badger is considered the most fearless and ferocious animal IN THE WORLD. Due the their agression, lose skin and questionable fighting tactics, they are always the hunter and never the hunted. I appreciate my relatively safe occupation in the travel industry.

And now I want to go on a safari.

ps I'm loathe to admit, but I just can't hide it anymore: I just couldn't finish reading Rebecca. I really tried! I'm a sucker for superpowers and fantasies.

Aug 18, 2009

The Power of I

I love to read first person accounts. They just seem to drop me right into the main character's head and I see everything from their point of view. One of my very favorite (read that as I read over and over) is Elizabeth Peters' Peabody series.

From the beginning I was one with Amelia. For a mystery it's a wonderful way to have it unfold. As the character seizes on red herrings so do you; as they track down the real culprit so do you. It's a heady experience.

I also like the power of I because it's active voice. I did this; I did that; I accomplished that goal; I solved that mystery; I overcame.

Perhaps that's why each book in the BOM is so special and endearing to me, because I am getting their pov...what Nephi thought; what Mormon saw; what Samuel said. I've come to love Joseph Smith even more by teaching RS these last two years and hearing his experiences from his perspective.

There is a power in I. Think about how that sentence is structured. Does it hum with power or just sit there? What if I said: I see the power in I. Doesn't it make a strong, bold statement?

Yes, just call me the fan club president of I.

Aug 17, 2009

What’s the Best Thing About Being an Author?

by Joyce DiPastena

In the course of various interviews for my current book blog tour, I’ve had a number of blog reviewers ask me some variation of the question, “What’s the best part about being an author?”

Needless to say, there are many “good things” about being a published author. But this weekend, my answer to this question would have to be a resounding: “Reconnecting with my favorite roommate and best friend from college after losing track of each other for 30 years!”

I was stunned to find an email from my long-lost-roommate, Laurie, in my email box this weekend. Fate threw us together as dorm partners for two years. Neither of us knew the other before that. She was beautiful and vivacious, I was mousy and painfully shy. We should never have clicked. But we did. Outside of the dorm, we mostly went our separate ways with the separate friendships we developed. But inside that dorm room, we shared a unique bond that I have treasured all my life. If fate threw us together, it was surely because fate knew how much I needed a friend like Laurie in my life!

We never had a single fight. Something I cannot, alas, say about any of my subsequent roommate experiences after Laurie abandoned me to marry the man she loved. (How could she have been so selfish?) Laurie was simply too funny to ever fight with. Observing her life was like watching a comedy, and I was the laugh track. Her off-the-wall personality kept me too much in stitches even to feel annoyed. But it wasn’t “all about her”. She cared about me, wanted to know what was going on in my life. It was like coming home at the end of the day to “family”. The adjustment to new roommates in an apartment after her marriage was difficult. Instead of “family”, my new roommates and I were more like “ships that passed in the night”.

Laurie and I tried to keep in touch, but you know how such things go. It was before the age of email, and letters gradually faded until neither of knew what had become of the other.

Until this weekend. Laurie and her husband wandered into a Deseret Bookstore and saw a copy of one of my books. “How many Joyce DiPastena’s can there be?” they apparently wondered. My editor had included my email address in the bio at the end of my book, so Laurie shot off an email to me. Sure enough, I was me and she was her! And now I’ve got to post this blog, so I can shoot an email back to her.

Yes, as of today, one of the best things about being an author is finding my long-lost roomie.

Aug 16, 2009

The scriptures

By Shawnette Nielson

When on my mission, scriptures were my closest friend. They had answers to all my questions, they comforted my weary heart, they guided my teaching, and the Lord spoke to me through them. They gave me strength, courage, and hope when things were tough. I probably read an average of 2 hours a day and they were only a thought away.

Eight years later, how am I doing? I'm ashamed to say that I'm not doing well in that regards. To be frank, a lot of days it doesn't even cross my mind to pick them up. I feel weak for it.

I know that reading daily scriptures gives us strength and hope and courage and wisdom. It unites our families, brings us closer to the Lord, calms our spirits, makes us more Christlike, and helps us have an eternal perspective when things are tough.

I must remember and refocus and GO!

We are promised so much:

1. Power to overcome evil—(1 Ne. 15:24; see also Ps. 17:4; Ps. 119:98–101, 104; Hel. 3:29–30.)

2. Power to live righteously—(Alma 4:19.) (Ps. 119:105; see also 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Hel. 15:7–8.)

3. Power to teach convincingly—(Alma 17:2–3; see also 2 Tim. 3:16.) (D&C 11:21; see also 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Alma 4:19; Alma 31:5; D&C 84:85.)

4. Power to call down the powers of heaven—(Jacob 4:6; Hel. 10:4–5.)

5. Power to change the heart and disposition—(Hel. 15:7; see also 1 Ne. 15:20.) Three marvelous promises.

Promises of Increase

1. Increase in hope and joy—(Rom. 15:4; see also 1 Ne. 11:25; Jacob 2:8; Jacob 4:6; Alma 44:5; D&C 19:23.)

2. Increase in spirituality—“(Alma 31:5; see also 2 Ne. 4:15–16; Moro. 6:4.)

3. Increase in knowledge and understanding—(2 Ne. 32:3.) To Joseph Smith the Lord said: “The holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction.” (D&C 33:16; see also Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:98–101; 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Alma 12:10; Alma 17:2–3; D&C 18:34–36.)

4. Increase in the power of discernment—“(Hel. 3:29.) “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (JS—M 1:37; see also Heb. 4:12.)

5. Increase in testimony—From the Doctrine and Covenants: “You can testify that you have eard my voice, and know my words.” (D&C 18:36; see also Ps. 19:7.)

Other Promises

“for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8) and as Joseph Smith said, “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:379).

Quoted from the talk Remember also the promises by: Elder Jay E. Jensen

Aug 15, 2009

Balancing Our Passions

By Christine Thackeray

Okay, I have a confession to make. I used to adore WHOPPERS. Both the candy and the burgers but especially the burgers with an Icee and onion rings. Then I discovered that on the back of the receipt there is a number you can call and fill out a little survey. Then they give you a code and you get a whopper for FREE!

Suddenly I could have twice the whoppers that I could have before and often frequented BK while my children were in school until one day a few months ago I held the burger in my hand and it just didn't look that good. In fact, I don't think I'll ever eat another one again. I just got tired of it.

I think Heavenly Father created us to want and enjoy a variety of things. When we loose the balance in our lives we can get burned out and then grow an aversion to something that in the past brought us joy. The way we don't do that is to keep our lives filled with a variety of activities so we don't get drowned by a single one.

With writing I think the same thing can happen if all we do is write. I talked to a friend who is a prolific writer. She says she always has to be doing three projects at a time. One she is researching so she gets to read new material, the other she is creating and the third she is editing. When she gets bored with one activity, then she can switch to the other and still be moving forward. I thought that was interesting advice. Now, I'd add laundry, housework, cubscouts and RS to that but I do think the idea is balance- something I've never been good at but am going to try harder.

Aug 14, 2009


By Kristine John

It's interesting to go through the process of transplantation.
We moved in January of this year, excited about an opportunity the Lord had given us, even though it was unsolicited and surprising.

I have, for many months, felt a number of the reasons why the Lord has brought us to our new home.
We have made inspired new connections, re-evaluated all extracurricular activities and influences, been subjected to hours of introspection, both by choice and by consequence, and incredibly, been reminded that home isn't about the walls that surround you.
Joyfully, we have rediscovered that home is a part of your heart, and you carry it with you when you feel loved, valued and accepted.
Home is here, right where I am today, with my family alongside.

As my children have all headed back to school this week, it has been eye-opening to me to see the hand of the Lord in the lives of my children.
His love is evident for them, and is leading them in paths which only He knows the end result.
I feel the peace of following His promptings in their behalf(s), and am amazed at the growth and change that is occurring in each of the 9 lives that are housed within the walls our our home.

It's not about where we are, it's about who we are, and who the Lord desires us to become.
I see that more clearly now.
I'm grateful for the time I have had to spend in introspection.
After all, isn't life about growth?
Simply said, sometimes we grow more heartily after a transplantation has taken place.

Aug 13, 2009

Life in the Pike Lane

by Kari Diane Pike

It is nearly midnight here in Utah...and I am just getting this blog written. Of course I can come up with a million reasons...or at the least 450 of them. That is the number of email messages that waited for me when we finally got our internet services up and running yesterday in our new home. About half and hour ago, our oldest daughter arrived with her five children. They are going to be staying with us for the next several weeks while the family tries to sell their home in WY so they can join their Dad in a new home is CO. So...we pile their suitcases on top of our boxes and we will enjoy whatever time we have to spend together.

This move has been mind boggling for me. Everything still feels surreal. I am humbled by the outpouring of service rendered to help this move happen. I have a list of no less than 45 people who helped us pack, supplied meals, scrubbed walls or floors or emptied the approximately 40 gallons worth of soda and juice bottle filled with water stored in the took almost an entire day! Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

July 21st, about 8:45 pm, I learned that I had 9 days to plan and pack up our home of 11 years. I've already blogged about that experience. I still giggle when I think about the miracles Heavenly Father performs to orchestrate events and make things happen! Due to the service of angels, both mortal and immortal...My husband and son drove the trucks away Friday the 31st...right on schedule. I remained behind with our two youngest daughters until the following Tuesday. Sometime early Tuesday afternoon, the house in Lindon that Doug had arranged for us to rent, suddenly fell through. Doug drove to his place of residence worried that I would arrive and he wouldn't have a home to move us in to. He prayed for help and when he turned on his computer, he found an e-mail from a person owning a rental in Highland we had decided not to rent because it was out of our budget. The man said that he and his wife really felt that we were the right family for their home and if they dropped the rent 30% would we be interested? Doug called him immediately and asked if we could move in in two hours. The answer was yes...even though we would not have a lease for three more days. When we pulled the moving vans into the driveway and began to unload, no less than 8 families appeared within an hour to help empty the trucks. Teenagers and even young children accompanied their parents, everyone hauling boxes up and down stairs. The teens eventually gathered on the lawn with our own children and quickly introduced themselves. Neighbors even brought vacuums and tools to help make things run more efficiently.

I am humbled once again...and feel very loved. I miss my Arizona home, friends and family, but I know that this is where the Lord wants us to be right now. I am excited to learn new how to deal with all the fruit on the apricot, plum, apple, almond and walnut trees! oh..and grapes...and cherries, too! A family of quail live in a long neglected, weed choked flower bed. I don't have the heart to weed it. I love watching the momma and her babies march through the yard. I love the wind and the clouds...and watching the mountains change colors throughout the day. We even attended a free concert at a park across the street from the Timpanogas Temple the other night. It was held in the coolest amphitheater...all I could think of was how the setting was perfect for an intriguing romance, or sinister mystery...or...???

so...a brief summary of life in the Pike Lane. Isn't life grand!!

Aug 12, 2009

Suffering for my Art
by Kirsten Millsap

Well, Good morning folks…it is officially day 15 of my diet, and I am doing well. Am I suffering? Yeah…a little. Am I writing? A little. The suffering helps me come up with new ideas for my book. Problem is, I actually may be suffering too much. Case in point:

I have begged my husband to please, pleeeeeaaaase, not make really scrumptious foods while I am on this diet (he is a wonderful cook) and what does the devoted, helpful man do? He makes this heavenly pasta dish that has everything I absolutely love in it…sans chocolate of course, ‘cause that would be weird. I was so annoyed, that I decided to go upstairs and write. And I did. Lots of writing…lots of angry writing. My lead character was acting out in ways I had never expected. It made me feel better, but it also made me not like her. So what was I to think? Was suffering the best idea for me?

For my waistline? Definitely…for my book? Not so much. Bottom line to all the writers out there:

Dietal suffering =great waistline=comedy turned horror novel.

Aug 11, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart

by Valerie Ipson

Look what came in the mail!

I opened it to find this!

On August 18th I will blog about Joyce's book as part of her weeks-long blog tour. Check out my blog here for details. You can actually be entered to win prizes when you leave comments at the different blogs--including gift certificates to purchase the book. Seriously, folks, run, don't walk, to the blog tour nearest you. (Again, details are found on my blog.)

This is my very first official book review (I think, anyway, and I'm not going to go back through my blog and check). I plan to include an author interview as well, so that will be awesome. I'll need to come up with some interesting, insightful, and quirky questions for Joyce. Be ready!

Walnut Springs Press selected me to review for them on my blog, so this will be the first of many--the second book is already in the mail--one by Gale Sears.

Such a sweet deal. They send me books, I read them, write about them, they send me another one. Life is too good!

Aug 10, 2009


By Stacy Johnson

My life is slowly coming back under control now that school has started. I have discovered that I'm a little bit obsessive/compulsive when it comes to routines. We have our morning "get ready for school" routine. The baby and I have our "clean up the house before lunch routine," then there is the "just home from school" routine. Let's not forget "get ready for football/cheer" routine, the "dinner" routine, and the "go to bed" routine. Today is only the beginning of week two and we're still ironing out some kinks. I was in tears this morning during scripture study with the kids because things didn't go as smoothly as I had planned.

It got me thinking that I even have a writing routine. Meaning, I need certain things to happen before I can actually sit down and do some serious writing. My desk needs to be cleared somewhat, my bed made, the baby quietly playing near me, a cold diet pepsi can within arms reach, and the knowledge that nothing could possibly distract me from what I am about to do. (I know none of you have the distractions I do:) jk

How sad, that in the last week, the week when I thought I could get so much done, I haven't found time to fit in much writing. I'm easily distracted and it is frustrating to me. I have a hard time focusing on my next writing project, or any writing project for that matter. Luckily, at the peak of my monthly ANWA meeting. My sweet sister reminded me of a children's series I had mentioned months ago. She said I needed to start. Now, it is all I can think about. But, with all the catching up I have been working on the last week, I still need to work on my "writing" routine so I can get it down. So, that's my goal for the next two weeks, finding my "writing" routine and making it happen.

Aug 9, 2009

Characters! Don't You Just Love Them?

by Marsha Ward

Many years ago, I typed notes about characters in my Owen Family novels on 3- by 5-inch or 4- by 6-inch index cards. It's pretty illuminating to go back and read those cards and see if anything I wrote remains true now, three novels later.

For example, one of my female characters is the elder daughter in the Owen family, Marie. She was born between James and Clayton, and is five years older than her sister, Julianna. She was first seen in The Man from Shenandoah, and appears in Jessie Bingham's memories in Trail of Storms.

I have two photos on Marie's card. They are both far too old for the real Marie. One is of a female newscaster whose name escapes me, and the other is of an actress whose name I never knew. Ha! I didn't need names for the photos. Their purpose was to provide a general physical description I could visualize and describe as needed.

Here is what I wrote on Marie's character card:

Marie has thick dark hair and a beautiful smile. She loves a good mystery, and is good at ferreting out people's secrets. Her eyes range from hazel to dark brown, according to hertemperament . She enjoys teasing her brothers. Marie is aware of becoming a woman, but has no anxiety to wed. She would love to have several beaus to play off against each other, but will take what comes with a good will. She loves adventure, and looks forward to the trip west with high excitement.

I'm looking forward to getting to know Marie better. Are you?

Aug 8, 2009

Four Simple Secrets to Strengthen Marriage

by Cindy R. Williams

A portion of this blog ran in Blogs and Blurbs last week. The author gave me permission to re-blog it due to all the wonderful comments and additional secrets sent to me. A new secret list will have to continue.

I would like to share four secrets to strengthen a marriage with you. They are tried and true simple things to do to create a stronger marriage.

Secret # One: There are no parachutes in a good marriage.
Secret # Two: Put your spouse first.

Secret # Three: Never use the "d" word.
Secret # Four: Never use sex for a tool to punish or reward.
What is a parachute in a marriage? It is your secret escape mechanism you keep just in case your spouse makes you mad, doesn't live up to your expectations, doesn't understand you . . . fill in the blank. It is there for you to use when the going gets tough you put on your parachute and bail out---like an escape clause.
Get rid of it.


Make a promise to each other---a very serious---even sacred promise, that you will not ever strap a parachute to your back and bail out of the marriage. Then as disagreements and disappointments come---and they will come---you can admit that you love each other in spite of these challenges. You will get through this---together.

Issues arise, tempers flare, trust is tested, but if you have made a deep and clear promise that you are in it for the long hall, as in FOREVER, you will find that this attitude of no parachutes will help you get through the tough spots.
I often tell my husband of 23 years in the very middle of a disagreement that I am angry and hurt right now, but I love him and am committed to him forever without a parachute. Since he doesn't have a parachute either, we are truly stuck with each other. So we best love each other, come what may. Not a pretty way of putting it, but it is none the less true, and I wouldn't have it anyother way. The issues don't seem so insurmountable, and it gives us both a feeling of security. That doesn't mean we just let the issue go, but we rededicate ourselves to working it out, fixing it, growing and improving together.

The second secret is to put your spouse first. Easier said than done. There are so many things that take your time and pull at you. Some possible things are work, children, activities, sports, church callings, community responsibilites, PTSA, housework, pets, errands, extended family, friends, neighbors . . . the list goes on and on.

So how do you put your spouse first?

You add them to your prayers, each and everyone. You write their name in your planner to remind yourself to do something to help them each day, or do and say something kind to them. You always, ALWAYS tell them "I love you," with a smile on your face, at least twice a day. Once in person,(if they are not out of town,) and the other can be through a text, email or the phone. Smiling is a critical part of this exercise. Smiling makes not only the recipient feel better, but the giver finds more joy. Smiles create a win/win situation.
Now there is one more thing that is very powerful in putting your spouse first. Gratitude.
Tell your spouse how much you appreciate something he/she did that very day. Even if you are angry with your spouse. You may have to dig deep, but it truly is possible to find at least one thing to thank your sweetheart for. You will be amazed how much peace and feelings of kindness this will create in your marriage.

Secret number three needs to be taken very seriously. If a couple tends to joke about divorce, and take it lightly, it is like strapping on a parachute for when things get tough. It is not funny in any setting. In fact, it is in very poor taste as well as damaging. Don't us it as a threat either. No good will come from that either.
Secret number four is pretty self explanitory. The physical side of love will bring closeness and a rich bond that can not be obtained in any other way. If respected in it's proper place, it will be a great source of strenth to the couple.

Now that you know these four simple, but very powerful secrets to a strong marriage, I must add that there really are a few good reasons in my book to end a marriage. They are adultery, physical or emotional abuse of you or your children, and severe selfishness. I know, I have faced all of those in my short first marriage and chose through much prayer and pondering to divorce and create a new life for myself and my first child. That, however, is a future blog. Suffice it to say that for now that other than these horribly destructive actions, the no parachute ,putting your spouse first, never using the "d" word and not using sex as a tool for punishment or rewards can take marriage to a new, and stronger level.

Aug 7, 2009

The Minds of Boys--a Summary (sort of )

by Sarah Albrecht

I’m starting a Master’s program for secondary education at the end of the month—trepidation! Given some of the classroom stories my children come home with, one of my greatest fears is how to teach boys (not that this applies to all, of course) so they work with and not against me—and vice/versa.

So I’ve been reading a book called The Minds of Boys by Michael Gurian. It has some great insights both for relationships at home and for teaching.

Many of you may have heard some of this already, but here were some “aha!” moments for me:

Men and boys rely more on visual input than girls. When I need to enter a room at night, say the kitchen to get a drink, I often use just the light coming from another room. Invariably my husband turns on the light for the same task. Or at dinner I’ll sit enjoying the fading natural light and my husband will say, “How can you stand it being so dark?” I had always thought our preferences were unique, not gender-based.

Boys are usually one-and-a-half years behind girls in verbal development; for example, freshman girls generally write at the same level as second-semester sophomore boys. Since boys usually relate, again, to visual stimuli, to get them writing it may help to have them draw rather than write when brainstorming for details. Or they can draw a cartoon of what they are supposed to write about, then use it to get sensory ideas for their written product. I’ll definitely try this with my reluctant-writer boys.

Boys tend to need about sixty seconds to transition from one task to another. I had noticed, but not really noticed, this in my boys—in other words, I have tended to get frustrated when they don’t leap immediately to get on task.

Finally, boys "zone" differently than girls. When their brains go into a rest stage, little other brain activity occurs. Girls, on the other hand, continue to have significant brain activity even at rest, which relates to their ability to multitask.

This is just a sample of some of the information in the book. As a mom, I wish I’d read something like it a long time ago. As a teacher I hope it will give me an edge!

Aug 5, 2009


by Marielle Carlisle

What to do?




Decisions are the worst.

It doesn't help that I can't get enough of

Not to worry. I've got the lesson tonight. Thank goodness for Tivo.

Aug 4, 2009

Do the Hard Thing

Years ago there was a poster of a young gymnast about to mount a balance beam and the words were a sort of prayer about giving her the strength to do her routine. So many times in my life I instead have prayed for the cup to pass from my lips. I don't want to be this or that anymore, or do this or that anymore or have this or that in my life anymore. Or my personal favorite, Ok Heavenly Father, I got myself in this mess, I got here on my own, but would You get me out of it...and make it snappy. I was wise enough to wait for an answer, but then foolishly followed it haphazardly.

I wasn't trying to be an ungrateful child although it probably came across that way. Recently, I've had some hard things happen to me and around me. And I found myself unable to say my usual words, in fact, they just wouldn't come out.

So I tried a different prayer: What's going here? How do I handle this? Is it permanent?

His answer surprised me first because it came from an unusual source (for me) and second it wasn't the answer I was hoping for in my very human desire to pass up these hard things.

Quietly, thoughtfully, as I prepared my Sunday School lessons, it came to me that the early saints did a lot of hard things. They moved all over the country by wagon or on foot, clearing land, building homes, growing food, following their beloved prophet who gave them hard things from God. Things like leaving your sick family to go on a mission, being forced out of your home in the snow without a 72-hour kit, even plural marriage.

Slowly the answer dawned on me. Do the hard thing. In writing, we often have to make hard choices, change a character to fit the plot, change the plot because it isn't working, put aside a piece for a season, accept criticism...I'm sure you can think of many others.

So I have resolved to the hard thing and keep the poster prayer as my inspiration...don't take the hard thing from me, make me strong enough for it.

Aug 3, 2009

What Words of Wisdom Would You Share?

by Joyce DiPastena

I just read about a writing contest called Words of Wisdom. “What if you were told you had one day left to live and were given the opportunity to write only one letter? To whom would you write it, and what 'words of wisdom' would you leave as your legacy—words by which you want to be forever remembered?”

I don’t know that I’m planning to enter, but it got me to thinking…if I could leave only one word of advice behind for others what would it be?

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about the subject of compassion. Why is it that the world talks so much about “compassion” towards strangers…”the poor”, “the oppressed”, “the hungry” people of our nation and the world…people none of us have ever met…and yet, all around me I see people sorely lacking in compassion towards people they know the best, most significantly, their own families?

Of course we know we all have an obligation to help relieve the sufferings of strangers. That’s why so many of us faithfully pay our fast offerings, donate to the humanitarian efforts of the Church, and serve in many, many other ways. But sometimes, when it comes to our own families, “compassion” becomes much more difficult to put into action.

I have a friend who’s father is battling cancer. I do not know this man, but I know that my friend carries significant hurtful memories from her childhood. Not from physical abuse. Perhaps from some degree of verbal abuse and self-centeredness on the part of her parents, at least in her view. I’ll be honest. I relate to many of her complaints, because in many ways her dad sounds very similar to mine. One difference, though, is that her dad literally lives on the other side of the country. So, he’s been diagnosed with cancer. He’s undergoing chemotherapy. The chemotherapy makes him sick and he wants to stop. And my friend is angry-angry-angry. Angry that her father took so long to go see a doctor. Angry that he “whines” about his treatments. Angry every time he expresses a desire to stop the treatments. Yes, she admits when I try to gently hint that he’s probably afraid, that’s very likely true, she says, but she promptly minimizes the fact with “he’s got to stop being so selfish and think about how this is affecting the people around him, instead of just thinking about himself.”

Now I understand that anger is part of the “grieving process”, but I feel this anger is more than that, because she’s been angry and impatient with her parents for a long time before cancer ever reared its ugly head.

When she visited her parents in Florida and they went to Disney World, and her parents forgot an appointment…she was angry. I shared with her my experience with my own parents, and how (let’s be honest now!), people have more trouble remembering things as they get older. But no, she said, they’d always been like that. It had nothing to do with age, they just didn’t care about anyone’s schedule but their own. When I suggested that someday, we’ll be our parents’ age and will likely be forgetful too, she admitted to the “getting old” part, but still refused to make allowance for her parents' foggy memories.

Now that her father has cancer, I’ve “wondered” to her if any of us know how we would react if we’d received such a diagnosis. Would we be fearful or brave? Would we move quickly to choose a treatment, or dither a bit, wondering which treatment would be best? She agrees with my pondering, but stoutly states that she certainly hopes she would be less selfish than her father and would think more about how her family felt than about herself.

But do any of us really know, until we are the ones standing in our parents’ shoes?

I think perhaps what it comes down to is that my friend can’t forgive her father (or mother, for that matter) for not being perfect. She’s unable to let go of the way she thinks they “should” be, and have compassion for the imperfect people that they “are”.

I can still remember quite clearly the day when I was helping my parents as they aged, and struggling with some of the issues my friend is struggling with now. I remember how strongly the thought came into my mind, “Sometimes, you just have to be more grown up than your parents.” It was a revelation to me that helped me through their last years upon this earth. I often felt angry, too. But even in my anger, I could feel the Spirit prompting me to have compassion for my parents. Whispering to me to view them not just as “my parents”, but as “people”. Imperfect individuals. And though they may have lived 80 years or more on this earth, and in the eyes of the world were clearly “adults”, they were also children of a Heavenly Father who loved them, and perhaps in Heavenly Father’s eyes, there is still more of the “child” about each of us than any of us fully knows. Adults, like children, make mistakes. Adults, like children, get frightened. Then can’t we learn compassion and forgive our parents for being imperfect, too?

Aug 2, 2009

The Love of a Woman

by: Shawnette Nielson

I promised myself I was NOT going to forget this week!!! And I almost did. Gee wiz. So, here I am, two months since my last blog.

I’ve known what I wanted to write about since my first absence, and I’ve been excited about this topic. Hopefully I can pick up the thoughts that had occurred to me so long ago.

I believe women have a very special gift, unique only to them. This gift has the ability to help lost souls, inspire growth, create a home, and hold a family together. This gift comforts, forgives, and heals. This gift is the gift of love.

Yes, I know that everyone LOVES. I am not disputing that. And everyone’s love has a healing power. I think, though, that there is something very special which allows a woman to love the unlovable. To love against all odds. Women are often jeered at for being soft or sentimental, but I believe that softness is actually a gift given that allows them to reach out and HEAL when no one else would. Or to love in a circumstance that others would not.

One instance is the Sabine Women. Romulus, leader of the Roman’s, desired for his mostly male followers to marry and have families. They went to the Sabine’s desiring intermarriage. The Sabine’s refused. Romulus then devised a festival and invited all his neighbors. At the festival he gave a signal at which the Romans grabbed the Sabine women and fought off the Sabine men. The women were then implored to accept the Roman husbands.

Romulus then went on to war with and conquer the surrounding cities. Due to certain circumstances the Sabine’s gained access to the citadel so the Roman’s went to destroy them. Battle ensued. After much bloodshed the women intervened in the battle to reconcile the warring parties:

[They] went boldly into the midst of the flying missiles with dishevelled hair and rent garments. Running across the space between the two armies they tried to stop any further fighting and calm the excited passions by appealing to their fathers in the one army and their husbands in the other not to bring upon themselves a curse by staining their hands with the blood of a father-in-law or a son-in-law, nor upon their posterity the taint of parricide. "If," they cried, "you are weary of these ties of kindred, these marriage-bonds, then turn your anger upon us; it is we who are the cause of the war, it is we who have wounded and slain our husbands and fathers. Better for us to perish rather than live without one or the other of you, as widows or as orphans.” (Livy: The Rape of the Sabines)

They reconciled and agreed to form one nation with the Romans and the Sabine king jointly ruled Rome.

In fictional accounts we can find the same theme of a woman’s love changing the tide. In The Phantom of the Opera Christine’s love saves Raul’s life … and her own, from the Phantoms fanatical obsession. In Beauty and the Beast, Beauty is able to actually love this unlovable, selfish, ugly creature that is keeping her captive. And her love heals him.

It is an amazing thing to be a woman. We have been blessed in so many ways and I belive that one of our gifts, our gift to love, has the ability to heal the world. After all, God compares Christ’s sacrifice with the love of a woman.


Aug 1, 2009

Which Type of Writer are You?

By Christine Thackeray

Okay, I'll confess. It's 2am.

I was headed to bed but wanted to check my email since it was the last day of our BIAM. That was three hours ago. I'm terrible because when left to my own devices I always stay up late. Some of my best writing is done after the children are all settled, and I can let my mind free. I'm truly a night-writer. So I guess you could tag me an owl-writer.

My husband, on the other hand, wakes up with the sun. No matter when we go to sleep, he's up anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00am, depending on the time of year and has often put in hours of work before I even open my eyes. I know writers like this too who work best right at the start of the day. I'd call them rooster-writers.

Many stay-at-home Moms and empty nesters are morning writers. Unlike the pre-breakfast Rooster, they enjoy writing during the mid-morning after the children have left for school. In the afternoon they are then free to pursue other interests. I tried to be this type of writer this year but failed miserably- not actually writing anything legible until after lunch time. But for those who love the morning time, I'd dub them Robin-writers. The quintescient morning bird.

The Hawks are afternoon writers.

Hawks don't hunt at night and therefore never have to compete with the owls, and they've been known to eat robins. (I'm talking about the birds not the writers.) When I don't have the luxury of being an owl, I'm a hawk-writer.

Lastly is the Mourning Dove. These writers write in the evening. My first memory of Mourning Doves is when my uncle who lived in Mesa told me to listen at sunset to their peaceful song. I was horrified later to learn that Uncle Dave had a freezer full of these serene creatures, and he liked to eat them. Ahh! Mourning Dove writers have the discipline not to turn into owls. This may be fueled by daytime obligations but some people just writer better in the evening.

So, I'm curious. Are you an owl, rooster, robin, hawk or mourning dove when you're writing?

'Fess up.